For generations, Willi Bründlmayer‘s family has cultivated vineyards in the wonderful valleys of the Danube and the Kamp river. With exceptional climate and terroir characteristics, alongside a big portion of love for viticulture, Bründlmayer’s wines have become some of Austria’s most exceptional.

For experts, Willi Bründlmayer’s wines shine due to their matchless depths and finesse. Beyond that, “they are also counted among Austria’s most long-lived ones,” as Rudolf Steurer, author of the renowned Austrian Wine Guide, once noted. Without doubt, the wines from the Bründlmayer estate have established themselves at the top of the league. Having won numerous national and international competitions and awards, Willi Bründlmayer has been repeatedly voted one of the world’s greatest wine producers and ranks among the 50 most influential personalities in the wine world. In the Financial Times, Jancis Robinson MW called his estate a “Beacon for Austrian Wine”.

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The irresistible Bründlmayer Brut; Austria’s best sparkling wine for many.

But what exactly makes Bründlmayer so exceptional? “Our greatest treasures are – of course – our vineyards,” smiles Willi Bründlmayer. Thus, the terroir and climate play crucial roles. The winery is situated in Langenlois, which lies around 70 kilometres away from Vienna. Here, the Kamp valley and the Danube valley meet and the Waldviertel’s wooded hills protect the vineyards against icy winds. During the day, the sun heats up the stony wine terraces and at night, the tangy woodland air seeps into the ground. A pleasant climate with cool nights and warm days and geological and climatic diversity, alongside the exceptional primary rock soil high above river Kamp, give the wines their distinctive characteristics. Furthermore, a majority of Bründlmayer’s vineyards, such as the Käferberg or Heiligenstein are classified as ‘Erste Lage’, an acknowledgement which designates first-class vineyards with distinctive soil characteristics, microclimate and slope position which provide optimal growing conditions for refined and complex wines.

Sustainability is key

Exclusively using organic fertilisers and adhering to strict no-herbicide policies to maintain the ecological balance of the vineyards is self-evident for family Bründlmayer. Furthermore, the vine-training method plays a crucial role at the winery. In order to double the sunlit and aired foliage surfaces in some vineyards, Willi Bründlmayer applies the complex ‘lyre system’ in which the vine branches are cut and trained in V-shape so that they extend heavenwards lie arms praying to the sun. He states: “Only healthy, perfectly matured grapes which were sorted by hand offer the base for distinctive wines which reflect their origin.”

What many do not know is that climate change directly affects more and more wineries – just like winery Bründlmayer. “We have noticed over the past years that the blossom and grape maturity happen approximately 12 days earlier than it did 40 years ago,” Willi explains. He adds: “In order to be able to still harvest fresh and light white wines in the future, we decided to create Grüner Veltliner and riesling gardens in higher, cooler locations. Types that mature early like Müller Thurgau or Frühroter Veltliner were rooted out. The global warming of the past four decades is quite good for our wines. However, we would prefer to do without a further temperature increase.”

Willi Bründlmayer and son Vincent. For generations, the family has produced its renowned wines. Photo: Chris Rogl

Bründlmayer puts special emphasis on growing Grüner Veltliner – an exceptional white wine which is considered the flagship of Austria’s white grapes. “Willi Bründlmayer produces probably Austria’s best Grüner Veltliner,” said Olivier Poussier, (World’s Best Sommelier, Montreal, 2000). Another speciality of the winery is its riesling with excellent cellaring potential. For example, Bründlmayer‘s ‘2010 Zöbinger Heiligenstein Erste Lage Alte Reben Reserve Riesling’ made it into the top ten of the cellar selection list of Wine Enthusiast 2012. The winery’s red wines like the pinot noir or the St. Laurent should also not be underestimated and sparkling such as Bründlmayer Brut and Brut Rosé have been widely praised in the past. Following British wine critic Stuart Pigott, Bründlmayer produces “probably the best sparkling wine in German-speaking countries”.

Heurigenhof Bründlmayer

Kamp valley visitors should head to the family’s Heurigenhof – a wonderfully preserved renaissance building which poses as the perfect meeting place for wine enthusiasts and gourmets. The Heurigenhof serves Bründlmayer’s current wines by the glass, alongside exceptional culinary delights which are coined by the region and seasonal, high-quality products. In summer, one may enjoy the cosy renaissance courtyard and in winter, visitors can relax at the open fireplace. Two charming guest rooms round off the programme. No wonder the Heurigenhof Bründlmayer landed at the top of the new ‘Falstaff-Heurigenguide’ which ranks Austria’s best wine taverns.

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TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF | PHOTOS: BRUENDELMAYER

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